Sunday 17th January – 14:05 – Anfield
Jurgen Klopp and Louis van Gaal meet in one of the Premier League’s fiercest rivalries after being opponents in one of Germany’s biggest clashes. The former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich bosses will be in the dugout as Liverpool face Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, with both teams hoping to get their top four ambitions back on track. The hosts have won just twice in their last seven games, and sit in ninth, but played out a thrilling 3-3 draw against Arsenal in midweek. Manchester United’s game at Newcastle finished by the same scoreline in another exciting counter, but it means that the sixth placed Red Devils have won just once in their last eight games. So with both teams on a bad run and the Reds facing an FA Cup replay with Exeter on Wednesday, we could be in for a dull game. But there’s never a dull game between these two rivals, and if their midweek results are anything to go by…
- Defender Dejan Lovren is nearing a return after a hamstring injury but will not be fit to play against Manchester United on Sunday.
- None of the other players on a lengthy injury list are close to fitness – Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge (all hamstring), Joe Gomez Danny Ings, Divock Origi (all knee).
- Joe Allen’s late goal against Arsenal could see him come into contention for a start in midfield, but Klopp may well persist with Emre Can, James Milner and Jordan Henderson.
- The Red Devils will be without Bastian Schweinsteiger with a knee problem, while fellow midfielder Michael Carrick is also out with a knock.
- Marcos Rojo (shoulder), Luke Shaw (leg) and Antonio Valencia (foot) are all long-term absentees, but Phil Jones is nearing his return from his ankle injury.
- Adnan Januzaj has stepped up his fitness since returning from a loan spell at Borussia Dortmund and could be named amongst the subs.
The Key Battle: Mamadou Sakho vs Wayne Rooney
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has endured a disappointing campaign in the league but appears to have turned a corner in recent weeks. He has scored three goals and one assist in the last four games and his performance against Newcastle where he scored two and set up another would give him great confidence.
This is certainly the best time for Rooney to turn around an underwhelming season as he looks to propel his side to a Champions League berth at the end of the campaign.
Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho will be entrusted with the task of keeping the England captain quiet. The hosts are undergoing an injury crisis that has forced Klopp to sign Steven Caulker on loan but would be grateful that the former PSG man is fit for this tough fixture.
Sakho has not performed too well in recent weeks, and needs to be on top of his game to ensure Rooney’s disappointing affair with Anfield continues. [Soccerlens]
Liverpool wins = 64 / Manchester United wins = 78 / Draws = 51
*According to en.wikipedia.org
Last Meeting: Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool (12th September 2015)
£36 million teenager Anthony Martial marked his debut in sensational fashion with a stunning goal as Liverpool were beaten at Old Trafford. Christian Benteke’s equally stunning overhead kick had thrown Liverpool a lifeline after Daley Blind’s crisp finish and Ander Herrera’s penalty had put Louis van Gaal’s side in control. It was the signal for Martial, the 19-year-old signed from Monaco on deadline day, to make himself an instant hero after coming on as a second-half substitute, slaloming between Nathaniel Clyne and Martin Skrtel before a composed finish in front of the Stretford End. [BBC]
Jurgen Klopp: “Sunday is important for the table because we are close together. Both teams need the points. Derbies are the salt in the soup. It’s a special game for me and for the club. I enjoyed the atmosphere against Arsenal but I think we can do better.”
Louis van Gaal: “We have played each other four times [in his time at the club] – in the USA and the league. You can see it in the faces of the players. The passion to play these kinds of games is very high.”
The Referee – Mark Clattenburg
- Last Premier League game: Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace (12th January 2016) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Liverpool game: Watford 3-0 Liverpool (20th December 2015) – 1 yellow card, 0 red cards
- Last Manchester United game: Manchester United 0-0 West Ham United (5th December 2015) – 1 yellow card, 0 red cards
Stat of the Match
Christian Benteke has scored in his last three league appearances against Manchester United, but has lost two and drawn one of these three games.
Where Can I Watch It?
The match is being shown live on Sky Sports 1 from 1pm, with kick-off at 2:05pm. The highlights will then be on BBC One’s Match of the Day 2 on Sunday evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
I don’t think that either side will pick up a win in this game, despite both teams in desperate need of the three points. This need will cancel each other out, but we should see some goals. I think that Wayne Rooney will give United the lead, but James Milner will equalise at Anfield in a game where could also see a red card – it was in this fixture last season that Steven Gerrard was sent off just 38 seconds after coming on as a sub.